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April Brings Renewed Life for Korean Aviation

A Korean Air 747-8i in Seoul (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

The aviation industry in South Korea has seen a silver lining in spite of the country’s fourth wave of coronavirus. AeroK, the brand-new Cheongju-based airline, will operate three flights each day between Cheongju to Jeju with its A320 starting on April 15.

“Operation of our first scheduled flight had to be delayed as a result of the obstacle that is Covid-19, but we believe the news about our operation will be a silver lining in the cloud for the aviation and tourism sector,” AeroK CEO Mike Kang said in a statement.

Earlier, the airline had introduced its genderless uniform and aimed to bring a new image to the customers.

In the meantime, Eastar Jet said that it will select a new investor by May after Jeju Air suspended its purchase of the budget carrier last year. According to Eastar Jet, several investors have an interest in buying the struggling airline. In the meantime, Jeju Air, the largest low-cost carrier in South Korea, is estimating a loss of $55.9 million in the first quarter of 2021.

In response to the pandemic, Eastar Jet has suspended most of its services, as its Air Operator Certificate will be expired in May. Once the transaction is confirmed, Eastar Jet is aiming to resume its domestic services as early as June.

Meanwhile, Air Premia, another new airline in the country, has received its first Boeing 787-9 from Air Lease Corporation; the airline and ACL signed a three-aircraft lease agreement in 2019. Air Premia is expected to provide mid-to-long-haul routes, including North America and Europe with hybrid services.

Air Premia “will soon bring hope and joy to those in dire thirst of a true journey with comfort and care,” Peter JY Sim, CEO of Air Premia, said.

In addition, as a result of the strong demand for cargo services, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are expected to announce a profit for the first quarter of 2021.

According to local media, Korean Air, the largest carrier in the country, is expected to record an operating profit of $68.3 million. It is also believed the blockage of the Suez Canal stimulated demand for air freight last month. Earlier, Korean Air delayed the acquisition of Asiana until 2024 due to Korean monopoly law. After the merger, Korean Air will become the seventh-largest airline in the world.

South Korea started its vaccine program at the end of February. However, travel demand in the country has remained weak, and low-cost carriers have been faced a different situation. Jin Air and T’way are expected to post an operating loss of $33.4 million and $27.9 million in the first quarter of 2021, respectively.

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